Halloween III: Season of the Witch

From Academic Kids

Halloween III: Season of the Witch is a horror film released in 1982. It was written and directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (who had been a second unit director for John Carpenter) and starred Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy, Ralph Strait, and Michael Currie.

The original screenplay was written by highly-esteemed British film and television science-fiction writer Nigel Kneale, whose Quatermass series was a favourite of Carpenter's. However, Kneale's original script was drastically altered by Carpenter and Wallace, and the writer was so disenchanted with the result that he had his name removed from the credits.

This third entry in the lucrative Halloween series almost derailed the entire franchise. Instead of following the exploits of slasher Michael Myers, the third film spins a completely different tale. There is no "season of the witch", and, for series purists, this wasn't a real Halloween film, though original Halloween director John Carpenter produced it and added a moody electronic score.

There has been some speculation that it was never the original intent of the filmmakers to call the movie Halloween III; rather, the decision was made by Universal Pictures after the film was completed, and, seeing that they had a decisive bomb on their hands, added the Halloween title principally to ensure a strong box office opening and secure as much of a return on their investment as possible. However, the plot is inextricably linked with the holiday Halloween.

Instead of the usual bloody antics from Myers, the story focuses on a toy company named Silver Shamrock, which is discovered to merely be a front for an evil pagan cult who seek to sacrifice millions of children. The Silver Shamrock company markets Halloween masks to children with implausibly phenomenal success. Atkins' character is a doctor who discovers that these masks are part of the cultist's elaborate plot: a special television commercial, to be broadcast on Halloween night, will activate a device hidden inside each of the masks. Each device appears to be a small computer chip, and has a fragment of the stones of Stonehenge inside it, which, when activated, inexplicably causes poisonous snakes and insects to erupt from the wearer's head as they die.

Themes such as a business with a secret agenda controlling a local community, and an ancient artifact with mysterious and deadly powers are similar to those found in Kneale's Quatermass series, and the allegorical treatment of the negative effect of watching television cropped up in several of his works. The film takes liberally from the plots of The Hand and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It has been particularly maligned because it was marketed as a sequel to Halloween and Halloween II, yet has nothing to do with those those films.

After the critical and commercial failure of the film, it was thought that the franchise had died altogether. When Halloween 4 was released some years later, it was pointedly subtitled "The Return of Michael Myers" so there would be no confusion.

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